The seven microstates of Europe, i.e. Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Malta, San Marino, Sovereign Order of St. John, and Vatican City are remarkable not only for their size, but their persistence. Most have been around for centuries, while much larger empires have come and gone. Despite the great events of the last two millennia, these countries have come into existence and have managed to steer a course away from incorporation within their larger neighbors. Why is this? Rather than being an exercise in triviality, the study in The Microstates of Europe: Designer Nations in a Post-Modern World of the histories of these tiny states may provide insight into tenaciousness of national aspirations and ethnic solidarity that are everywhere evident. Modernist studies tend to view the microstates as illogical anomalies destined to disappear under the crush of social progress. However, these states are anything but marginal—in fact, they are among the richest states in the world. This book examines the phenomenon from structural history and anthropological perspectives. It is not a grand history of petite places—rather, it is an “ethnographic anthology” of a few places in Europe that should not logically exist. The Microstates of Europe is a post-modern critique of the trends of globalism, and it examines the counter-trend of increasing nationalism, particularism, and cultural relativism. Rather than being eclectic exceptions, the microstates may demonstrate the survival of extremely long enduring mechanisms of collective boundary maintenance that are most likely present in many communities throughout the world.
Christiaan P Klieger —
P. Christiaan Klieger was born in Montana but lived most of his life in Hawai'i. He received his doctorate in anthropology from the University of Hawai'i in 1989 on the process of national identity formation. He is a leading expert on the principle of self-determination among the peoples of Tibet. He has also worked extensively with Native Hawaiians in historic preservation and with Native North Americans on self-determination and the application of Native voice in museums. He is the author of several books on the history of Tibet and the Hawaiian kingdom and dozens of articles. Klieger currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is a knight of the Order of Malta and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Klieger, Christiaan P. The microstates of Europe: designer nations in a post-modern world. Lexington Books, 2013. 211p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780739174265; ISBN 9780739174272 e-book, contact publisher for price. Reviewed in 2013aug CHOICE.
The microstates of Europe are usually the stuff of travel guides. Klieger offers brief historical sketches of Andorra, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Vatican City, and Monaco. He includes two chapters on the sixth microstate, Malta. He also considers a number of wannabes with short histories. While Klieger points out that the microstates have maintained their more or less independent status for centuries, his histories do not offer an explanation for their continued existence among neighboring states many times larger and more powerful than they. The book is rather whimsical--Klieger includes a recipe for stewed rabbit with advice to send "condolence letters to rabbits' families." The book concludes with a superficial four-page speculation on the "Limits of Globalism" and the future of microstates. There are references and a bibliography, but both consist mainly of popular rather than scholarly sources. The book can be recommended for the general reader or traveler to the European microstates.
Summing Up: Recommended. General readers only. -- R. P. Peters, University of Massachusetts at Boston